If you haven't read Nexus, the stunning debut by Ramez Naam and one of the last year's best books, I would strongly advise that you stop reading this review now as Crux is a direct sequel to it and you'll probably spoil it for yourself. If you have, then prepare yourself from more of the that same hi-tech brilliance that graced Nexus. Similar to Nexus, Crux reads like Wired on steroids. Imagine if all those new technologies covered by their features were amplified to 11 and let loose to run freely in our everyday lives. That's what Nexus and Crux are like.
However, Crux should not to be confused with a paper on the possibilities of technological progress. It also hosts a gret story. To remind, Nexus is a very illegal drugs with basically fills your brain with nanobots, giving you the possibility to wirelessly communicate and eventually influence other brains infected by same. Nexus signals as such can be manipulated and amplified, effectively enabling the nefarious someone a total mind control. This new technology opens up new avenues and soon enough neuroscientists and biohackers Rangan, Kade and Ilya create programmable version of nanobots, running custom made Nexus 5 operating system, creating a direct interface to brain. Crux unfolds few months after Nexus and there are already millions of users of Nexus 5 OS. Users, as with all new exciting technologies are testing the boundaries and are, as usual, doing some rather cool as well as some truly awful things with it such as stealing bank codes and, in the end, reducing humans to controllable drones.
The story is just as good as it was in Nexus and we follow Kade, Sam and Feng in their frantic run around the world while escaping from ERD, a government organization tasked to deal with Nexus and it's users. On the other side of the globe, Ilya and Rangan are tortured in an government prison and forced to reveal backdoors into Nexus 5. However, terrorist organisation called Posthuman Liberation Front is preparing a oppression.
I can't help but draw multiple parallels with the events currently unfolding in the real life. Crux, in a small way, touches on all of these and the distrust in government is still deeply rooted inside the story. However, the new element to Nexus is the overall felling that not even people should be trusted to govern themselves and this definitely gives some food for thought.
Similar to Nexus, Crux would probably work fantastically as a movie and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a whole franchise spawning from Naam's creations. In the hands of right director, we could have a new hi-tech classic on our hands. Until then we should enjoy the thought provoking, but ultimately fun, workings of Nexus 5. An excellent follow up to Nexus. Bring on part three.